“One of the most familiar of Dublin’s twentieth-century buildings is shortly to be demolished after a life of only 35 years. It is the old IMCO complex on Merrion Road, which is bowing out to make way for a new office and showroom development.”
Newspaper article circa 1975, source unknown.
Something New Under the Sun is a film concerning ideas around progress, novelty, value, our experience and perception of time and the contemporary, via an attempted portrait of the demolished IMCO building, and the work of its chief designer, Oliver P. Bernard.
The IMCO building was, during its brief existence, a major landmark on Dublin’s south coast, yet is all but forgotten today. Similarly, the industrial processes that the company carried out, once part of the fabric of everyday life, are entirely undocumented.
IMCO were a large firm of dry cleaners who ran a central cleaning and dying plant in Dublin, alongside approximately 50 branches taking delivery of items of clothing from all over the country. A weekly sponsored radio programme, featuring owner Louis Spiro and presented by Eamonn Andrews, made IMCO a household name.
The film draws from significant research conducted in Dublin and London into social, industrial and personal histories. The narrative is interwoven with contemporary accounts, architectural journals, and newspaper articles from 1939, the year of the building’s erection, to 1975 when the building was scheduled for demolition.
The second phase of their building, dating from 1939, incorporated a modernist concrete and glass tower, designed by Oliver P. Bernard. A noted architect, scenic and industrial designer, and a champion of modern engineering techniques and materials, Bernard is credited with being instrumental in moving conservative Victorian British taste in a modernist European direction.
This film is part of the two–venue exhibition On Seeing Only Totally New Things at The RHA and Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin. Supported through funding from The Arts Council, and Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council.
To coincide with Gavin Murphy’s exhibition On Seeing Only Totally New Things DoCoMoMo Ireland and RHA present a lecture/talk “Remembering Modern Architecture: destruction or restoration” in October (see website for details). DoCoMoMo is the international committee for the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the modern movement. This talk will take place in October, please see website for further details. Supported by the Irish Architecture Foundation.
Selection of Images from the exhibition
Gavin Murphy is a Dublin-based artist and curator with a long engagement with artist-led projects and collaborative initiatives. He is currently a director/curator of the artist–run space, Pallas Projects/Studios, was coordinator of House Projects – a series of seven exhibitions in New York, London and Ireland, and was editor of the accompanying 200–page publication. He is the recipient of various Arts Council awards and residencies at Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne, and Fire Station Artists’ Studios, Dublin. His series of works On Seeing Only Totally New Things includes the exhibition Remember at Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane and a forthcoming publication in collaboration with design studio Atelier David Smith.